Collaboration is a professional buzzword. We believe that people produce better, more innovative work when they work together. Unfortunately, our organizations don’t always reflect our spoken commitment to collaboration and, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration has become a practical challenge.
So, what does collaboration look like amid destabilization? It demands more than lip service, most certainly.
Creating a Collaborative Company Culture
As your organization works to demonstrate a commitment to collaboration, the best way you can foster connection is by providing the tools your staff needs to connect, whether that’s across teams, locations, time zones, or anything else that may get in their way.
As a society, we’ve all developed a new vocabulary around video over the past year. Where in the past we had Skype or, for the old-school professional, GoToMeeting, now we’re all suddenly on Zoom and Webex. However, video alone isn’t enough to foster collaboration, just as having everyone in the office didn’t necessarily encourage staff to work together effectively, which is why Victor Sanchez and his team developed mashme.io.
What makes mashme.io more than just another video meeting tool? The platform’s goal is to provide an immersive experience, the meeting ecosystem of the future. When you use mashme.io, you see simultaneous views of yourself, the people you’re talking to, and additional content, with the ability to rearrange those features. Mashme.io goes beyond the single-video approach to streaming in favor of, at minimum, two cameras. This helps create a panoramic view that further reinforces the sense of community and presence.
Mashme.io may make it seem like we are all together regardless of location, but that doesn’t mean much if we can’t also ensure that everyone has proper access to all the information they need. So, how do you do that? The key is investing in a strong content management system (CMS).
Often when we discuss CMS platforms, we’re talking about tools like WordPress, but that’s not the only kind of CMS. For example, cloud content management platforms like Box are also a kind of CMS. Cloud-based CMS tools provide for both internal and external collaboration, seamless integration with other high-value tools, and built-in security.
Of course, cloud-based CMS platforms don’t just enable collaboration in a technical sense; they also ensure consistent access for end users by standardizing access processes. One of the biggest issues with old, in-house storage systems was that they required special training and knowledge to use. Secure, but standardized cloud-CMS are part of how we work now. Everyone understands them.
The uncertainty of the past year has made it harder for workers to collaborate. Many have lacked the tools they need to work successfully from home or were uncertain how long their period of remote work would last (and don’t forget about those added homeschooling responsibilities). Part of ensuring that workers can collaborate successfully under circumstances that involve ongoing precarity, then, requires giving them a sense of rootedness.
Obviously, company leaders have minimal control over when it’s safe for staff to come back to the office, but one thing they do have control over is how they plan that transition process. In particular, there’s a strong belief that what comes next is a blended office model, and collaboration-driven managers should be planning for that shift.
The blended office has some staff at home and some at work, and office leadership should be outfitting workspaces to allow for both safe in-person collaboration and optimal connection with staff at home. This means investing in new technology like document cameras, smartboards, and larger screens. Unlike the transition out of the office, leadership has time to plan right now, and they should use that to the fullest.
It’s About Culture
While investing in the right technology will make a significant difference in how well your staff can execute collaborative tasks, at the end of the day, it’s important not to forget that collaboration is about culture. That means creating opportunities to build relationships and fostering trust between staff members, management, and business partners. Though there’s no single way to make this happen, the effort needs to remain at the center of your strategy moving forward.
Creating a culture of collaboration is an ongoing project, so don’t let it fall to the wayside as staff return to the office. Indeed, it’s what makes the best offices stand out from the rest. What will excellence look like in your workplace?